Australia’s international boarders may remain shut until the end of 2022 as countries around the world grapple with COVID-19.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said in an interview with Sky News that the borders would remain shut this year with public opinion saying that protecting lives and jobs was paramount.
He also told The Australian borders won’t be “flung open at the start of next year” amid “uncertainties” over the effectiveness of the global vaccine roll-out.
“They’re not reopening anytime soon,” he told Sky News on Thursday.
“Australians do not want us to reopen borders and risk COVID entering into this country, and risk the consequential loss of life, economic damage and loss of jobs across Australia.”
The escalating situation in India has highlighted how volatility of the disease which has killed millions around the globe.
The minister did not give an exact timeline but he said any decision on overseas travel but he said a decision is still some way off.
“We’re dealing now in May of 2021 with arguably a more uncertain environment in the management of COVID than we had a few months ago,” Mr Birmingham said.
He said India’s case spike and outbreaks in other parts of the world were behind his reluctance to name a date to restart overseas travel.
“Australians would be surprised if it resumed at the end of this year or frankly any earlier than that.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reinforced his support for a vaccination passport to increase the chances of quarantine free travel.
“I do like this idea. I’ve been saying this for a while. But we’ve got to make sure the health systems can support that,” he told Melbourne radio 3AW.